In this era of increasing instances of flexible work arrangements, many employers find that an increasingly larger percentage of their workforce is comprised of part-time employees, specifically. In fact, part-time might mean anything from a periodic five to ten hours per week up to thirty hours based on the feedback I receive from peers in HR who strive to compete for talent by offering work schedules that accommodate greater balance between work and personal life.
As we shift to putting a greater emphasis on better serving part-time teammates, don’t forget to account for how their needs may be slightly different than those of full-time employees during the employee onboarding process. In this blog, and with the help of some of my human resources friends, we’ll explore eighteen ideas for rolling out the onboarding red carpet for your newly-hired part-time employees. Some tips will present a solid plan of action for engaging “part-timers” specifically, while others are best practices for onboarding all types of employees.
1 – Avoid overwhelming part-time employees
Don’t make part-time new hires “drink from the firehose” during training by overwhelming them with too much material too early. Remember, they may be on the job only half the time you are (assuming you work full-time) and so will have half as much time to absorb new content.
2 – Be supportive of self-study
Build in blocks of self-study or skills practice time within the first few weeks of the new hire’s employment tenure. Have pre-determined study or hands-on projects ready for them to tackle during the training process.
3 – Take care with time sheets
Since your part-time employees are classified as non-exempt, clearly explain the process for submitting a time sheet and make sure they have reminders scheduled to turn them in promptly.
4 – Prepare with pre-boarding
According to Linda Dausend, Consultant and Account Lead for FlashPoint Leadership Consulting, the “pre-boarding” process is just as important as the onboarding process. Pre-boarding includes:
- sending a new part-timer a welcome kit at home–perhaps include a flash drive with a welcome video;
- having a coffee meeting prior to the start date;
- setting up the new hire’s desk, computer, and ordering business cards;
- notifying your team of existing employees and asking them to sign a welcome card; and,
- scheduling a session to officially welcome the new part-time hire during a time frame that falls within his/her work hours.
5 – Set expectations for special events
If your organization occasionally schedules optional learning or social events during lunch or a part-time employee’s regular work hours, make sure to set expectations with that new hire about whether he should consider that event part of his work time. For example, at ExactHire we have a few part-time employees, and we encourage them to join us at events such as our annual lunch outings to the Indiana State Fair or the downtown Indy Strawberry Festival on the Circle.
6 – Make use of mentors
Bradley Galin, President and Principal Consultant for Allegro HR, advises employers to assign a mentor to newly hired employees so they have someone to ask those questions that they may not want to ask the supervisor. When possible, assign a mentor who is either doing the same job as the new hire or someone who has done the job previously.
Don’t discount the importance of pairing a part-time new hire with a mentor or guide to help him get going. This may be even more important for part-time hires relative to full-timers, since they likely need a longer period of time to get to know other team members. Having a mentor gives them a consistent point of contact while they’re getting familiar with everyone. William Dykstra, Regional Talent Acquisition Consultant III and Officer at a large banking institution, says that most of the departments for which he recruits have a peer mentor paired with a new hire for the first 90 days of employment.
7 – Proactive paperwork
Dykstra also indicates that it’s helpful for employers to have new hires complete traditional employment paperwork prior to the start date. That way they can focus on learning the job on the first day instead of doing tedious paperwork.
ExactHire’s OnboardCentric employee onboarding software makes the forms, documents and tasks associated with employee onboarding paperless.
8 – Be clear about benefits
Bradley Galin also suggests providing a benefits overview to new part-time hires that is customized to their position and full-time equivalency (FTE). After all, your organization may have folks receive different benefits depending on their exact FTE and bargaining unit…so avoid one-size-fits-all communication approaches.
9 – Create opportunities for interaction
If you have other staff members who work flexible shifts and/or work from home certain days of the week, consider varying a new part-time hire’s work schedule over the first week or two so that she has a chance to meet and interact with all members of her new team.
10 – Adjust recurring meeting invitations
Prior to a new PT employee’s start date, evaluate which traditionally all-company or all-department recurring meetings he should or should not attend based on his work hours. For those meetings that are feasible, make sure the new hire’s email address is added to any existing recurring calendar invitations.
11 – Standardize the swag
With experience being a part-time employee herself, Kye Hawkins, Management Consultant and Marketing Specialist for ADVISA, encourages employers to welcome new part-time hires to the team just as you would any full-time employee. Whatever your company does: a gift basket on the desk, company swag, a welcome lunch, etc. Being a part-time employee still means she is fully part of the team!
12 – Share work schedules
Hawkins also emphasizes that one of a new hire’s first orders of business should be having him update his calendar with the days and times he’ll be working. Then, share his schedule with the appropriate people at the company along with a message clarifying his work schedule. Part-time employees’ schedules are more likely to confuse those who work full-time, and keeping track of work days will help all involved.
13 – Don’t underestimate the power of perception
Remember that perception influences employee engagement. By making a new PT employee’s first day as special as a typical full-time hire’s experience, you’re showing that part-timer he is just as valued as full-time staff members.
14 – Help connect the dots
According to Catherine Schmidt, Consulting Manager at Purple Ink, LLC, employers should make sure their new part-time employees understand and connect with the value and meaning of their work by speaking to others in the company about how their positions impact the organization, clients, or the community. Having meaningful work is a large predictor for retaining an employee and in this low-unemployment job market, it’s important for companies to keep good employees regardless of whether they’re full or part-time.
15 – Plan for the potential future
Additionally, JoDee Curtis, the owner of Purple Ink, LLC, cautions organizations to note that even though these individuals work part-time, it doesn’t mean they only need to hear “part” of the orientation. It’s likely that most everything will pertain to them…and what doesn’t (e.g. certain benefits) might be good for them to learn in case they decide to go full-time within the organization down the road.
16 – Introduce employees in similar situations
Especially if you work for a larger employer, make a point to introduce new part-timers to others who may have a similar work schedule early in their employment.
17 – Paint the picture for existing employees, too
Discuss the do’s and don’t’s associated with being part-time, especially for individuals transitioning from full-time positions to part-time roles. It’s easy to place a lot of emphasis on hiring brand new part-time hires, but we can’t forget to address the dynamics associated with existing staff members who reduce hours to adapt to changing life circumstances.
18 – Show and tell
Plan sessions that allow new part-time hires a means to “reverse train” a few weeks into their employment tenure. This gives them the opportunity to share with the manager what they’ve learned and reinforce understanding.
With some thoughtful consideration of how you might incorporate some of the above tips, you’ll be on the right track to welcoming and retaining your part-time employees!